Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Tag: self-growth

The Day And All The Learning In It

20160301_110631On Tuesdays we take it to the hills. It is Forest School day for the little guy, and most days find us on one of the hills around Kamloops. Yesterday we were Kenna Cartwright. Snow was coming down hard in big clumps.

The rubber boots I was wearing (and I usually never wear outside rainy days) didn’t help much in reminding me to appreciate the moment, as my toes went from cold to very cold to painfully cold soon after we started on the trail. Having the privilege to be seeing beauty on an ordinary morning, yet being stopped short by cold feet. The irony! And yes, tunnel vision, behaviour if you will – we all experience it at times and it rarely makes us proud.

The thing is, if you stick with it and its aftertaste long enough, it brings enough humbleness to be able to say, if willing, that going down the narrow road of rejecting the magic of the big picture for the short-lived moment of expressing bitterness, is simply a price too high to pay. You’d have to pay it a couple of times in order to learn though. Moments of grace? Hardly.

So there was mine, yesterday. Missing. Trailing through snowy forests, surrounded by children, red-cheeked and snow-sprinkled all over, all of them walking with small steps careful to not lose balance, slipping anyway and falling at times, picking up handfuls of snow to taste and being so immersed in the fresh white… I was there to see it all but grumbling inside for reasons too small to matter, too hard to let go of though in the moment, missing so much of it.

Frozen toes and work-related urgency sliced up the time in the woods even more. Stripes of joy were painted over by the thick paint of mental mumbling and grumbling, panic too that I will not be able to do what I had to do. Didn’t I say there was nothing gracious about it? It’s the truth. Second thoughts and hindsight regarding work were all too ready to pluck off everything that was worth keeping.

The moment I was in and I could not see, the wealth that comes with the understanding that every moment is as rich as you allow it to be, which I was forgetting.

The forest was beautiful, the kids were present with jolliness, tears too, they were telling stories and jokes and eating some more snow still after the game of hide-and-seek was done with and we were heading back. The forest I was in was actually hard to see for the trees of worry and immediate discomfort.

Mindfulness is never to be taken for granted. When I do, it’s like it was yesterday. Few things are so dramatic and urgent that they should be allowed to be more than they are – dark clouds on the sky, but not the sky itself. In fact, worry and panic never solve anything anyway.

There’s nothing to gain and everything to win from making the time you’re in worthwhile. Cliché it is, but true. It took me a drive home, laughter in the car as both me and little guy dripped melted snow all over, and a few extra bumps throughout the day to long for the time I should’ve seen the forest and I didn’t.

20160301_122920The moral of the story is…? Graciousness is not my strongest attribute. Nor is remembering to be mindful of the flitting moments of magic. There is hope though. Coming around to the place of seeing it as it should’ve been… Being human, aches and pains and grumbling included, is inescapable. Remembering that we are, as humans, privy to magic, is too easy to forget at times… that is though, what makes it all that much more precious.

Tuesday was learning day indeed. That it is not about being graceful after all, but truthful and willing… The journey continues.

Tread Gently. Add Courage

RiverIt’s in that little breath of wind that sweeps across your face as you walk on the river shores alongside the one you’ve chosen. Or was chosen for you. Do we know? Will we ever? It is not important, as long as you understand that magic is part of it.

The wind, ever so softly reaching for the leaf that fell asleep on the sand and laying it gently on the water. Swirl, swim, reach another shore, rest, and then go again. Thoughts do too, those inner birds that make nests of who we were yesterday to shelter who we will become tomorrow. Today is the in between, today is where you take a deep breath, feel the sand crunch under your feet, and count it as a blessing. Among many others.

Little boy runs ahead, making swirls of glittery sand with bare feet. His feet are still pudgy from the childhood that clings onto him like a magic thistle. Boys and the swirls of glitter add to the wonder of our day celebrating the commitment made a year ago.

Follow, follow my steps, the dusk light calls… Take wind and water and sand sparkles, make a castle. Could that last? What lasts? Nothing that we can touch with our bare hands can. The commitment we make in our heart does, the feeling that come what may, you will have the courage to keep searching for the sliver of sunshine that finds cradle in the eyes of the one you’ve chosen.

What have we learned this whole past year? Have we learned to sail better? To see the storms, to take shelter but also brave them when too much is at risk if you choose to hide?…

We walk, our tracks enveloped by tiny sand storms we create as we tread along. Walk ever so gently, storms will come your way, life happens. Keep on walking, the wind says, keep on… it’s there, the warmth you seek, summer’s breath buried in the sand, the hand that your hand has learned the warmth of.

It will take yours, if you let it, again, to have and hold, for better or worse. There are hands that will keep your heart cradled forever.

Boy running, sparkles of words upon discovering a treasure someone left behind. ‘It’s a crater, Mama, look!’

A crater?

Little boy runs ahead, walks through a portal of two branches stuck in the sand like a gate to the inner space that loops like a crater.

‘Who made this, Mama?’ I shrug. ‘Teenagers, I think…’ Little boy smiles. He knows.

To dig‘Wanna go inside?’ We did. We sat. Little boy sat too. ‘Just for a bit.’ So it is, just a bit. We have to remember that a blink is all. Life. Make it count. Forgiveness so you can see the day.

Hugs, skies darted with long thin clouds, water whispers, colours that paint our hearts happy.

The lady came out of nowhere and said ‘This look like the beginning of a beautiful home. I’ll take a photo of you two.’ So she did. We will remember this. We kept on sitting there for a while, the two of us. The branches and the barely warm sand, the gentle river songs, boys who play and make the day complete.

The promise of what’s to come, the learning we carry with us through portals of branches that remind us of the day we promised:

To keep on going, never let the uphill be anything else but worthy journey. To hope.

To press on, to believe in the magic that made us take the first steps. To follow the winding road.

To choose to see, to forgive, to understand what is and isn’t, to build, to rebuild, to play.

To taste the day that is, to know that there is only one of each. To let it touch our souls.

To remember the simple things and the silence of hearts seeping sunsets. To hug.

To speak up, to write, to say the words, to say them loud enough, as loud as can be, knowing that holding hands is holding on and that counts as words spoken.

to seekTo seek until you find. Up close. To listen.

To not brush over, to never close eyes and heart, to be kind, to live fully. To feel.

To tread gently. To be brave and scared, to say it, to hear it, to learn humbleness. To live with it. To wake up in wonder.

 

 

GratefulTo be grateful.

 

 

 

 

Unconditional Acceptance? Is What You Make Of It

If clouds were hunks of cheese and you’d take the biggest one, grate it and spread the shredded bits all over the sky, you’d get a milky-white cupola cradling early morning light like one does in a white tent.

That’s the sky this morning. It smells of roses and the noises from far away are dimmed down to a light buzz.

The street I walk on has old fences, shy cats, and garlands of head-heavy roses, bowing to the morning light. I like it. Two blocks more then I switch streets.

This one has been touched by inner city life more than I care to accept. Graffiti is not artsy but offensive. Dirty. Is offensive sprouting from artsy instincts? Creativity is a beast of many shades but is this one?

Cigarette butts and a few empty beer bottles guard the outside of a restaurant that has an intriguing sign in the parking lot. ‘The most amazing show on Earth.’ What, where? Is it a live show? Why not say more. I’ll leave it to remaining a mystery for now.

My walk to the library is complete. I drop the books into the slot (already two days late,) then I head back. The streets are still empty.

It is early Saturday morning. The boys were still asleep when I left the house. I like that. It is like they are left sleeping in a cocoon; they know some early mornings are for running or some quick errand and they usually wait in bed, reading. I like that too.

Today they are just about waking up; warm faces and fuzzy hair, trying to remember yet another dream forgotten in between the place between asleep and awake, the repository of lost dreams.

Since the first sleep after they were born, I’ve loved to watch them sleep and then wake up. The fluttering of eyelids, the first glimpse into the world they’ve missed a bit of during sleep. The smile that follows, an offering of their most inner being. I take it all, I am greedy that way. I like those moments of full acceptance. Arms wide open, eyes lazily hugging my face, slow paced sweet human beings returning from a world of their own and stepping into mine.

The day unfolds. They’ll move from sweet beings to wild, loud, mischievous, unkind and they’ll challenge me to bits. Again. I know they will.

Acceptance will wane during the day and I will logically remind myself of it. It is a trap, I know it is, and it is everyday learning… to accept my boys not when they shine in all that they do, not just when they’re sweet and surrendering to hugs, but when they simply are.

If I don’t accept them whole, how will they ever accept themselves?

I learn to do it every day, sometimes I fail, and then I try again.

As parents, we are stopped frozen in our tracks by memories of conditional acceptance. So did our parents. It is a bad spell that needs to be broken, yet there are no instructions. How to then?

We become more every day, and our children do too, all sides showing. We yearn for acceptance, in all that we are. Gracious, ungracious, sparkling, dull. If we’re loved, all sides show. And we become better.

A giant yellow swallowtail butterfly flutters around the front yard, a dance I perceive both indecisive and fascinating. Latter is accurate, and I will never know about the first. Assumptions can be traps sometimes. Still, I’d like to stop the butterfly. Beauty is captivating in a most primal way. That part of us never grows up, never becomes bored with seeing.

‘Mom, a wasp is eating the pollen off the daisy I gave you!’

Oh, let it. Little boy is not convinced. In his world, wasps are enemies, reputable ones.

‘No, it’s yours. I’ll chase it away.’

Don’t, look at it… The daisy is mine as much as it is the wasp’s. Or less? Wait, it is not pollen. I see legs. Do you see them?

‘Eww! Now I should chase it away?’

No. Let’s not. Daisies come with pollen and tiny spiders and sometimes wasps that eat them. It’s all that could be, and it’s real. Chase the part we don’t like away and then what?

Can we do that all the time? Chase the unwanted, the ugly, the scary, the parts we don’t understand or accept?

Life is unkind, ungracious, ugly at times, but fascinating in how it expands minds and souls. Real is all we get, if we’re ready to accept it. Real is what we grow from. Selecting but the good parts will never give you the full measure of what life is…

Half the sky has cleared up and it is blue. We sit on the porch steps, holding the glass with the one daisy, with many tiny spiders, with a wasp, with a chunk of life explaining itself, no shortcuts.

‘Mom, can you please make some pancakes? It’s Saturday.’

It is indeed. We always have pancakes on Saturday.

 

The Gardens That Grow

Will it rain? Who knows. It’s all a guessing game, though if you were to ask my dad he’d tell you it’s not. You do know, he’d say. There are signs. Humbly, you know it’s true. There are signs, you have a way to go until you learn them that’s all…

You want the rain because there’s tomatoes and spinach and garden peas that beg for it. Water is water but rain is better water, they seem to say.

Rain brings weeds also, there’s more weeds every day and less time, and you wish for a magic touch that will take them all away and make the garden clean of unwanted green. Someone once said that weeds are good, they would not flourish in bad soil. Take heart, is what they meant…

TenderBringing up children and tender crops. The same. Weeds taking over in both worlds. Screams, stomping of small feet and sulking, fights among boys too wild to know the slow art of diplomacy, and they’ll tell you being diplomatic makes you a loser… ‘cuz they know, they’re in the thick of it. Could all of that go like dandelion fluff, all the weedy dragon-like behavior and you’ll see but smiling faces, mannered boys taking turns speaking and never ever talking with their mouths full or stealing from other’s plates, no talking back… Nope. Sigh? No sigh. Joy. Nothing goes away that comes from within. Acceptance, all the struggle that children put into becoming people. The relentless struggle of tiny seedlings pushing through gritty soil.

You pull weeds, and the air is pierced by the boys’ voices. Shrills, screams, laughter, then the loud dragons again… ‘No, no, no, I am not playing with you…’

Should you step up and see about it? You call their names… Silence.

‘We’re good!’

Magic? Perhaps. They are tough, you can see their heads past the weeds just like you can see the corn rising thin and green and brave, reaching high. There’s no going back now.

Weeds, glassy skies, rags of clouds hanging lose, the world seems lazier than a sloth in the leftover heat of late afternoon, but you don’t stop. You can’t. The earth is dry, feels sandy between your toes. Barefoot boys, skipping past pebbles, they don’t stop… They can’t. It’s the game.

It’s the rhythmicity of it that makes it all exist, grow, and become more. Day after day, small things becoming big deeds, small roots holding small bodies, there’s no going back now. Rhythmic. Every day. Enough to fill the spaces in your body where you felt fear so often. You will again, but fear moves up, like bubbles in a glass that’s always half-full. Fear for them, for the crops to grow. But fear withers like the weeds you pull out of the ground and throw to the side. Fear has small roots. It must…

‘Mom, can we go for a bike ride?’ Little boy rides fast, you run to catch up.

Boy, tag‘Tag me if you can…’

If you can. Ha! What cheekiness… Fast becomes faster. You chase him just to hear the giggle, almost touching his back, then you slow down so the mad dash won’t make boy and bike topple. And they do, but there’s no crying. Grimaces, a look of ‘it hurts’ that you want to go and make better, but there’s no need because… ‘Tag me again!’

Remember the day when big brother stopped crying when he fell. That day… he rubbed the knees, rubbed palms, no need for kiss to make it better. T-shirts wiped all that Band-Aids masked until then. ‘Will these scars stay, Mom? I hope they do…’

Signs of time. Scars are not to cover. Boys are afraid no more, now your fear can go away too.

‘Try to catch me on the way home!’

WildYou run, fast, but wait… there’s berries in the back lane, growing wild, kissed by sunsets and taken care of by invisible hands… time. You gotta remember to bring the boys to the back lane bounty in a couple of weeks. Bounty, growing wild. You know it’ll be sweet and flavourful, and it’ll be like that whether someone pulls the cluster of weeds surrounding its spiky feet or not. It’ll be sweet, whether it rains or not, or despite of it… You know everything grows stronger without perfection to choke it. Children too. Bounty.

You follow the boy and his wild head of hair, palms of sunset glowing light caressing every strand and making them into golden streams. You’re at peace, not worried of rains and weeds and magic touches that can make everything perfect.

Magic is when you let go of the fear that you have to have it perfect so they’ll turn right. Magic is when you finally understand that they’ll still need the hug to make it better, but not for scraped knees. For egos that grow too soon, for life so loud it makes your heart pound and for bruises that come with it.

HarvestDay’s over. You pick tender leaves of lettuce, green and red, herbs… The shimmering sunset light is about to plunge behind the horizon. Tomorrow’s roots.

 

 

 

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